Although not fully complete I thought it might be interesting to show how an experienced landscaper can add real value to a garden project. At the moment we’re in the middle of a landscaping project near Leamington Spa in Warwickshire. The original design brief was to renovate this semi-circular flight of garden steps by simply replacing the frosted bricks and the treads but I for one felt that the result would still be disappointing. Darrell came up with the solution.
Before seeing what Darrell has done let’s look at what’s wrong with these steps which were built by a local warwickshire-based landscaper several years ago. All these are fundamental points but so often neglected by less experienced landscapers.
- The step risers are different heights. This doesn’t sit well with the eye and it also represents a trip hazard. One of the risers was over 8” high. The optimum is 6”.
- The step treads have been built with little or no overhang (or ‘oversail’.) This means that water has been running off the treads and down the faces of the brick risers. Inevitably the brick absorbs some of the water and when it freezes it expands and pops the faces off. This can also happen when cement mortar is used on bricks that really require a lime mortar. Absorbed water cannot escape via the lime joints as they were designed to and instead are drawn out of the brick faces. Again freeze/thaw takes it toll.
- The mortar joints under the treads are massive and look unsightly. At least they were pointed up – often landscapers forget that bit completely!
- the steps are fundamentally unsightly for the above aesthetic reasons. Which is a surprise because the rest of the garden had been well constructed.
So what was Darrells solution? See below. He added another step and equalised the riser heights. He then carefully cut the Indian sandstone paving we’re using on the rest of the project to fit. At the moment the steps haven’t been pointed and neither has the paving and brick edging at the base but I think we’d all agree that the new steps are an awful lot better than the old ones. It really does pay to get an experienced landscaper working on your garden project as they can draw on that experience to get the best possible result for the client.
I’ll post some pictures of the rest of the build-in-progress early next week.